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Date: Sat 17 Oct 2009

Privatisation, outsourcing and cuts cause problems in care for elderly

Stephen Smellie, chair of UNISON Scotland's Social Work Issues Group, is one of the key public figures giving their views to The Herald as part of the paper’s campaign on elderly care.

Stephen's comments were published in an article in The Herald on Saturday 17 Oct 2009.

Stephen Smellie's full statement to The Herald:

“The care of Scotland’s older people is one indicator of how civilized our society is. The problems highlighted by the Herald are an indication that something is significantly wrong with the way that care is delivered.

“Pressures for outsourcing and privatisation all too often mean that services are pushed out to tender and contracts granted – not on the basis of the quality of the service - but purely on its cheapness. This is not the best value for care for our older people but risks the kind of treatment highlighted.

“Even when the service is kept in house, cost pressures often mean cuts in time and resources to visit and look after clients. When services are provided under contract, voluntary providers are often told to provide services on less than the in-house service would receive. When you then factor in the private sector’s need for a profit, the kind of problems that have been highlighted are put into context.

“Now we face even greater pressure, and real fears of cuts in public funding in coming years. This will only lead to the problems becoming worse rather than better. At a time of increasing demand, levels of service should be better resourced – not cut. Properly trained, and resourced staff with the time to deal with our older people in a civilized way – whether employed directly by the authority, or in our voluntary organisations - are the only way to deliver the service they deserve. We owe it to them to deliver no less.”


See also:

‘If we don’t take care of our elderly then we are not a civilised society’ - The Herald, Sat 17 Oct 2009


UNISON Scotland Social Work pages